The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that 75,436 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits in May, an increase of 68.7 percent from May of 2008.

“The over-the-year increases in initial claims have declined from the triple-digits we experienced earlier in the year,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “Initial claims were also down from April to May in 11 of our state’s 14 metro areas. I remain hopeful that Georgia’s job losses will continue to decline in the coming months.”

The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of increase in claims from May 2008 to May 2009 are Gainesville, up 136.2 percent; Brunswick, up 132.9 percent; and Augusta, up 115.8 percent. The areas with the smallest increase in claims are Dalton, up 19.9 percent; Warner Robins, up 33.8 percent; and Valdosta, up 34.3 percent.

Most of the state initial claims were filed by laid-off workers in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, and administrative and support services. And, the number of jobless workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits rose 110 percent over the year, from 74,981 in May of 2008 to 157,544 in May of 2009.

Also, in May, the GDOL processed 20,593 first-time claims for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits, bringing the total to 201,526 since the federal program began in Georgia in July of 2008. Federal extended benefits are available to eligible jobless workers who have exhausted regular state unemployment compensation.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond urged jobseekers to look for work, explore training and education opportunities and to make full use of the reemployment services at the department’s 53 career centers around the state. The locations of the career centers are available at